On 18 February 2017, our colleagues of citizen group BruxselAIR organised a wide-scale event to protest against air pollution in the Belgian capital. About 400 participants placed air pollution masks on more than a hundred iconic statues in Brussels. They later gathered by the statue of Godefroy de Bouillon on the Place Royal to protest against the inability of Belgian decision makers to adequately tackle this crucial issue.
It is time to stop hiding behind the institutional complexity of our country.
It is time to stop playing with public health.
It is time to act.
Background: Belgium is one of the most polluted countries in Europe. Air pollution has been linked to shorter life expectancy, lung and heart conditions, breast cancer and diabetes. The European Environmental Agency estimates that more than 12,000 Belgian citizens die prematurely each year in Belgium from air pollution. According to the EU Commission, health costs due to air pollution amount to over €8 billion every year.